I’ve written about our day trip to Neuschwanstein previously in my “Holiday Postcards” series and as part of a guest article “Snapshots From Munich” for Ting from My Travel Monkey. However I thought it would be useful for anyone planning a trip there to give a bit more detail about the actual castle tour.
Firstly, if we went again we’d probably stay a couple of nights in the nearby town of Fuessen (see here for my previous article). There are a number of attractions in the Hohenschwangau area (the village nearest to Neuschwanstein), which include another impressive castle, Hohenschwangau and the Museum of the Bavarian Kings. On a day trip from Munich we simply couldn’t visit them all so made the decision to focus on the most famous castle of them all, Neuschwanstein. However, rest assured, if you are in Munich and want to do a day trip independently of a travel company it is perfectly possible.
The train journey from Munich to Fuessen will take about 2 hours and then you catch a bus (we caught the number 78) adjacent to the station platforms. The bus takes you on the 10 to 15 minute journey to Hohenschwangau, which is the hub of operations for castle tours. Book in advance for the tour if you can! We joined a lengthy queue at the ticket office and although the whole operation was conducted with military precision, we did have a considerable wait to buy tickets. You can only tour round the castles (this applies for Hohenschwangau as well as Neuschwanstein) at an allotted time. You buy a ticket for a particular tour (we did the Neuschwanstein one in English) and then you have to make sure you get to the castle door from where the tour departs right on time or you’ll miss your slot and have to buy another ticket! However you can pre purchase tickets online or at the Hohenschwangau ticket office from 2 days before your desired visit – see here for further details. If you need to, you can cancel or change your booked time up to 2 hours before your scheduled departure time. Hohenschwangau is a pretty little place but it does get very busy and was still crowded when we visited in April although it wasn’t the height of the tourist season. You do need to be prepared for your visit and allow plenty of time – casually fronting up late in the day will probably lead to a futile visit and disappointment!
The next little conundrum is how to get up to Neuschwanstein, which sits perched on a precipitous rock high above Hohenschwangau village. You can walk up the little winding road, which will take you about 30 to 40 minutes depending on your pace but be warned it is very steep and obviously would not be very appealing in inclement weather. I would think you’d need good quality snow boots in the winter months too! Normally there is a shuttle bus, which leaves from the main street near the ticket centre but the road up to the castle was being repaired when we visited and was unable to withstand the weight of a bus. Therefore bus services had been suspended for the time being (though reinstated since our visit). Which left a 3rd option – horse-drawn carriage. Beautiful Bavarian farm horses shuttle tourists to and from the top – it costs 6 Euro per person and you pay the drivers direct. Monsieur Le Chic and I were still feeling the effects of a nasty flu bug and decided this would be our best option though you do have to allow enough time – it probably took us 45 minutes or so before we reached the front of the queue. It was a lovely meandering pace to the top of the road with the soothing sounds of the horses clip clopping along. We were dropped off at the bottom of the path leading up to the castle and another few minutes walk took us up to the gates of Neuschwanstein.
Once at the top you’re free to wander round the grounds and castle concourse at will and marvel at the breathtaking views back down the valley and across the Pollat Gorge. Just make sure you arrive at the entry point for the conducted tours in plenty of time. It is very much like a production line and tours start punctually at the designated time. You are chaperoned by a guide throughout the tour, which takes about 35 minutes and alas taking photos is strictly forbidden. I know some people probably felt it went a bit too quickly and it would have been nice to linger in some of the rooms though the decor with its grandiose murals and paintings was definitely not to my taste! However it was an amazing experience to be in a place I’d heard so much about and to get a glimpse into the romantic and fanciful mind of Ludwig II, the castle’s creator. His obsession with all things “Wagnerian” has to be seen to be believed – the grandiosity is incredible! We passed through the Throne Room, Ludwig’s Personal Suite, the Singers Hall and the rather curious Grotto before winding the tour up. From this point you are free to wander around the remaining rooms including the kitchens and balconies with stunning vistas, at your leisure. One interesting point we discovered was that Ludwig in fact paid for the massive works at the castle out of his own funds and extensive personal borrowing rather than using public funds, which was traditionally believed (and used to discredit him).
We were blessed with a gorgeous spring day, which gave us a wonderful opportunity to admire the spectacular setting of Neuschwanstein in the Bavarian Alps and the jaw dropping views. Some of these photos were taken from the Neuschwanstein balconies and some in the grounds and environs. You don’t have to take a tour to admire the scenery but I think if you’ve gone all that way it would be a pity to miss out on seeing the castle’s interior and the over the top homage to Wagner of its creator!
Overall Neuschwanstein makes for a wonderful day out and a place to be enjoyed by young and old!
Copyright © 2015 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved